Peptide secretion in the cutaneous glands of South American tree frog Phyllomedusa bicolor: an ultrastructural study

Eur J Cell Biol. 2000 Sep;79(9):631-41. doi: 10.1078/0171-9335-00085.


The development of the dermal glands of the arboreal frog Phyllomedusa bicolor was investigated by immunocytochemistry and electron microscopy. The 3 types of glands (mucous, lipid and serous) differed in size and secretory activity. The mucous and serous glands were apparent in the tadpole skin, whereas the lipid glands developed later in ontogenesis. The peptide antibiotics dermaseptins and the D-amino acid-containing peptide opioids dermorphins and deltorphins are abundant in the skin secretions of P. bicolor. Although these peptides differ in their structure and activity they are derived from precursors that have very similar preproregions. We used an antibody to the common preproregion of preprodermaseptins and preprodeltorphins and immunofluorescence analysis to show that only the serous glands are specifically involved in the biosynthesis and secretion of dermaseptins and deltorphins. Scanning and transmission electron microscopy revealed that the serous glands of P bicolor have morphological features, especially the secretory granules, which differ from those of the glands in Xenopus laevis skin.

MeSH terms

  • Amphibian Proteins*
  • Animals
  • Antimicrobial Cationic Peptides / chemistry
  • Antimicrobial Cationic Peptides / metabolism*
  • Anura / metabolism*
  • Epithelial Cells / ultrastructure
  • Exocrine Glands / growth & development
  • Exocrine Glands / metabolism*
  • Exocrine Glands / ultrastructure
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
  • Mucous Membrane / growth & development
  • Mucous Membrane / metabolism
  • Mucous Membrane / ultrastructure
  • Oligopeptides / chemistry
  • Oligopeptides / metabolism*
  • Protein Structure, Secondary
  • Secretory Vesicles / metabolism
  • Secretory Vesicles / ultrastructure
  • Skin / metabolism*
  • Skin / ultrastructure


  • Amphibian Proteins
  • Antimicrobial Cationic Peptides
  • Oligopeptides
  • deltorphin
  • dermaseptin